Ark. AG Leslie Rutledge

Rutledge stands with multiple Arkansas legislators in support of the proposed legislation. (Photo: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Facebook) 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced on Monday proposed legislation that would ban transgender athletes from playing on women's school sports teams in Arkansas.

The announcement comes after President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Jan. 20 aimed at combating discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

"Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room or school sports," the order says.

Rutledge said at a news conference Monday that the order hurts female athletes. Her drafted legislation, known as the Gender Integrity Reinforcement Legislation For Sports Act, or GIRLS Act, would make it illegal for student-athletes who are identified as male on their birth certificate to play on women's teams.

"I want to send a strong message to President Biden and his administration that here in Arkansas, we intend to require schools to prohibit biological boys who self-identify as girls onto girls' sports teams," she said.

A draft of the proposed bill cites chromosomal, hormonal and physiological differences between male and female sexes. If passed, the bill would apply to K-12 schools in Arkansas. It would allow the attorney general to sue any school that violates the bill and ban them from receiving funds from a public source for one year.

"It will create equal and fair competition by limiting girls' and women's sports to girls and women, as evidenced by an original birth certificate," Rutledge said Monday. "We don't want common sense to be shadowed by so-called political correctness."

Arkansas state Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, and Rep. DeAnn Vaught, R-Horatio, said they will sponsor the bill. Irvin spoke at Rutledge's press conference Monday.

"Let me just tell you about the difference between a male and a female," Irvin said Monday. "We all know there are differences. There are biological and scientific differences ... And the message is really, really clear. The message is for girls, 'you deserve equal opportunities, except in sports.' That's not acceptable."

The state's Republican Women Legislative Caucus is working on another bill that addresses similar issues, Irvin said Monday during the news conference.

"I'm excited that Arkansas is going to have a strong voice in this national debate, and this national dialogue," she said. "Every little girl that's out there watching, I want you to know that all of us up here are fighting for you."

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